Valentine’s Day carries different meanings for everyone, with some reveling in the day of love, and others shying away from it completely. Here at Combsberry, we embrace Valentine’s Day wholeheartedly, enjoying all of the romantic overtures that we are lucky enough to be a part of year after year. Each year, our guests enjoy romantic getaways at the Inn, whether it’s for Valentine’s Day, a wedding, an anniversary, or a ‘just because.’ We are constantly surrounded by love at the Combsberry Inn, which further fuels our romantic spirit come Valentine’s Day. As we read through our submissions for this year’s Valentine’s Day Love Story Contest, we started thinking about the meaning of Valentine’s Day and its history.
There is considerable debate over the true origins of Valentine’s Day. Some claim that the holiday was invented by Hallmark, others trace the holiday to Saint Valentine, while other believe that Valentine’s Day started with the Feast of Lupercalia. As hopeless romantics, we’ll eliminate the possibility that Valentine’s Day was invented as a means for selling cards, flowers, and candy. We’ll start with the ancient Roman Empire:
According to historians, February 14 was originally marked as a holiday to honor Juno, the Roman goddess of women and marriage. On the following day, celebrations would continue with the Feast of Lupercalia, a fertility festival which included the custom of bringing together young boys and girls in a matchmaking game of chance. Each boy would draw a name and would then be paired with that girl for the duration of the festival, and sometimes even the duration of the year. Many of these matches would result in love and marriage.
The clearer namesake for our modern Valentine’s Day is St. Valentine, who defied the decree of Emperor Claudius II which forbid marriages in an effort to keep soldiers from having the distraction of families waiting for them at home. St. Valentine secretly married couples anyway, a daring move which secured him a death sentence. He was put to death on February 14, posthumously achieving sainthood. In other versions of the story of St. Valentine, he famously fell in love with a jailer’s daughter during imprisonment, sending her a farewell letter before his death signed “from your Valentine.” In 498 AD, February 14 was declared as St. Valentine’s Day to honor the martyr.
The final historical theory is attributed to the mating practices of…birds. During the Middle Ages, many considered the middle of February as a time of love due to the fact that it was the time of year that birds started looking for their mates. Coupled with the Feast of Lupercalia and St. Valentine’s Day, February 14 soon became an official day of love.
Today, 141 million Valentine’s Day cards are exchanged annually, which puts it as the second most popular greeting card giving occasion. The day is celebrated here in the United States, but also in Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, France, Australia, Denmark, Italy and Japan. Right here in Oxford, Maryland, we choose to celebrate Valentine’s Day by spreading the love to all of our guests. But why limit it to February 14? Romantic gestures aren’t just for the middle of February, so why not plan a weekend at the Combsberry Inn with your significant other and enjoy a relaxing weekend cozying up by the fireplace, walking the grounds, soaking up the stunning sunrises and sunsets, and taking a timeout from the stresses of everyday life. This Valentine’s Day, choose to celebrate love 365 days of the year.
Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!